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Helical Bar plc and CrossTree acquire an Old Street ‘Silicon Roundabout’ site in £60.75m deal

30th November 2012

Helical Bar plc and CrossTree acquire an Old Street ‘Silicon Roundabout’ site in £60.75m deal

Helical Bar plc announced on 28th November that it, along with CrossTree Real Estate Partners, also known as CrossTree, has exchanged contracts for the purchase of a whopping 3.12-acre site. The property sits directly opposite the recently dubbed ‘Silicon Roundabout’ – the new technological heart of London. The site has been acquired for £60.5m and is being funded by cash with a bank debt of around £30m. CrossTree will own a 67% stake of the freehold interest while Helical will own the remaining 33%.

The site in question is part of 207 and 211 Old Street and includes a vacant office block – the Empire House – two occupied office buildings which equate to around £2.1m of rent per year as well as a retail arcade to the west of 207 Old Street which receives a rent of £0.7m per annum. These buildings currently total around 287,000 square feet of net internal space. Helical’s and CrossTree’s developers are already working on plans to revamp the two office blocks that are currently let to multiple occupiers and the one vacant building of Empire House, and are also designing ‘incubator’ style studios to suit the type of tenants that prefer to locate themselves in the area of Silicon Roundabout – offices in Old Street are largely occupied by the growing TMT sector. The architecture company AHMM is working on these designs at the moment, says Gerald Kaye, Helical Bar’s development director: “Crosstree and ourselves will be working closely with AHMM to develop the existing site into a comprehensive, dynamic scheme with creative thinking at its heart to attract the burgeoning number of TMT businesses.” 

This site is in one of the areas of London’s which is regenerating fastest in the current economic climate. The demand for offices in Old Street has definitely risen in the last couple of years, and the current market is experiencing a certain strain with regards to the level of supply needed to match this rate of demand. The recent growth of the TMT, especially in respect of digital, creative and technological services, has created a rising demand for office space around Clerkenwell and has led to a move away from the traditional TMT location of Soho. We can expect the development of this site to assist in the boosting of Old Street’s image, especially as the developers are planning to add considerable landscaping and public-space enhancement to their plans, as well as substantial retail provision. These proposals will shake up Old Street and make it a more vibrant and interesting place to work. 

On 4th November the Prime Minister, David Cameron, introduced the government’s ambition for the area of Clerkenwell and East London – to become a world-leading technology city that will rival the US’s Silicon Valley. Google, Facebook and Vodafone are a few of the leading companies that have backed the government’s initiative and will commit to investing long-term in this area of the capital.

Eugene O’Sullivan, MRICS and director, at Morgan Pryce comments: “Big development companies are manoeuvring into this area, noting the major potential surrounding Silicon Roundabout which is also enhanced by the government’s push under its initiative, East London Tech City.”

Morgan Pryce is a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation, and project management and works exclusively for the tenant.

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